clum·​sy | \ ˈkləm-zē How to pronounce clumsy (audio) \
clumsier; clumsiest

Definition of clumsy

1a : lacking dexterity, nimbleness, or grace clumsy fingers
b : lacking tact or subtlety a clumsy joke
2 : awkward or inefficient in use or construction : unwieldy a clumsy contraption criticized her sentence for its clumsy construction

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Other Words from clumsy

clumsily \ ˈkləm-​zə-​lē How to pronounce clumsy (audio) \ adverb
clumsiness \ ˈkləm-​zē-​nəs How to pronounce clumsy (audio) \ noun

Choose the Right Synonym for clumsy

awkward, clumsy, maladroit, inept, gauche mean not marked by ease (as of performance, movement, or social conduct). awkward is widely applicable and may suggest unhandiness, inconvenience, lack of muscular control, embarrassment, or lack of tact. periods of awkward silence clumsy implies stiffness and heaviness and so may connote inflexibility, unwieldiness, or lack of ordinary skill. a clumsy mechanic maladroit suggests a tendency to create awkward situations. a maladroit politician inept often implies complete failure or inadequacy. a hopelessly inept defense attorney gauche implies the effects of shyness, inexperience, or ill breeding. felt gauche and unsophisticated at formal parties

Examples of clumsy in a Sentence

I'm sorry about spilling your wine—that was very clumsy of me. I have very clumsy hands and tend to drop things. She made a clumsy attempt at a joke.
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Recent Examples on the Web Go-To Tactic: Decoys can be clumsy, noisy, and a general pain in the butt, but there is no more exciting way to lure in a dandy buck, and now is the time. Scott Bestul, Field & Stream, "The 7 Best Days of the 2020 Whitetail Deer Rut," 20 Oct. 2020 There’s just nothing that can match the magic and the unpredictability of a clumsy farting human being ambling about on a stage. Christian Holub,, "Nick Offerman discusses All Rise: Not a stand-up special, not an audiobook, but something in-between," 14 Oct. 2020 Yet polls of university students about a decade ago showed that many saw those efforts as clumsy and transparent. Liza Lin, WSJ, "Xi’s China Crafts Campaign to Boost Youth Patriotism," 30 Dec. 2020 The clumsy effort nonetheless represents an extraordinary assault on American democracy, spearheaded by the president himself and with at least the tacit approval of his party. Chris Megerian, Los Angeles Times, "Transition tensions escalate as Trump steps up desperate effort to hold on to power," 19 Nov. 2020 But Talbert felt the earliest renderings veered too young and clumsy. Maureen Lee Lenker,, "Move over, Baby Yoda! Jingle Jangle robot Buddy 3000 will steal your heart," 14 Nov. 2020 This idea is exciting to consider when thinking about developing less-clumsy robots. Rachael Lallensack, Smithsonian Magazine, "Ten Scientific Discoveries From 2020 that May Lead to New Inventions," 28 Dec. 2020 But failing to actually vote him in came off as clumsy at best and cruel at worst, like the initial plan in 1971 to recognize Satchel Paige in a separate section of the museum but not to give him full status as a Hall of Famer. New York Times, "The Hall of Fame Tries to Contextualize Baseball’s Racist Past," 21 Dec. 2020 Chevy Chase is still remembered for playing a clumsy, stumbling President Gerald Ford in the show’s earliest days, and Dana Carvey’s impression of President George H.W. Bush was recognized by the commander-in-chief himself. NBC News, "Jim Carrey to stop impersonating Joe Biden on 'Saturday Night Live'," 19 Dec. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'clumsy.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of clumsy

circa 1598, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for clumsy

probably from obsolete English clumse benumbed with cold

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Time Traveler for clumsy

Time Traveler

The first known use of clumsy was circa 1598

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Statistics for clumsy

Last Updated

18 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Clumsy.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 19 Jan. 2021.

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More Definitions for clumsy


How to pronounce clumsy (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of clumsy

: moving or doing things in a very awkward way and tending to drop or break things
: badly or awkwardly made or done
: hard to use : awkward to handle


clum·​sy | \ ˈkləm-zē How to pronounce clumsy (audio) \
clumsier; clumsiest

Kids Definition of clumsy

1 : lacking skill or grace in movement clumsy fingers
2 : awkwardly or carelessly made or done a clumsy apology a clumsy error
3 : awkward to handle a clumsy package

Other Words from clumsy

clumsily \ -​zə-​lē \ adverb
clumsiness \ -​zē-​nəs \ noun

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